POTD: Originality is Non-Existent

POTD: Originality is Non-ExistentOriginality is Non-Existent Spokane, Washington 2013

This is a very scary assertion for an artist, or at the very least one that should stimulate some serious contemplation. It’s actually a quote from Jim Jarmusch, the movie director who is most well known (at least to me) for the movie Dead Man. Dead Man is probably one of Johnny Depp’s least known films. It’s a great movie in my opinion, although not for the less adventurous cinema fan. Here is the context of Jarmusch’s quote, a perspective I can largely agree with:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

–Jim Jarmusch, The Golden Rules of Filming


9 thoughts on “POTD: Originality is Non-Existent”

  1. I had to look a this a second before I realized what was going on. I like the way you set this up. I also like the quote. It brought back something my boss told me when I worked for Bell Labs. “You must emulate those you wish to supersede.”

    1. Thanks Bruce. I think the full quote someone gives a a license to steal, since nothing is original anyway. But if you’ve got to steal, you should steal well. And not just to avoid copyright violations! I look at it as more of a standing on the shoulders of giants kind of opportunity.

  2. Interesting quote – still pondering that. Don’t know if it’s the B&W but the photo looks like it could have been taken many years ago. Do you remember what street this is? Don’t think I’ve ever heard of that movie – will have to check it out.

  3. I just now noticed how the buildings are reflected curved in the top of a nearby car. Cool! Proof again of how words trump other types of visual information!

  4. Pingback: Nothing is Original | Larry Blackwood Photography POTD and Blog

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